Sunday, 16 October 2011

Richard's Pipit the third

Ian A found a couple of Richard's Pipits in Aberlady dunes yesterday afternoon. After Ian's initial sightings the birds had been looked for by others but without success so it was looking like they had moved on. On the other hand there is a lot of habitat at Aberlady to hide a couple of Richard's Pipits so I decided to pay a visit this morning. There would be plenty of other birds around - maybe the Little Egrets that have been hanging around the bridge and certainly some of Stephen W's 9500 Pink-footed Geese...

After a couple of hours of very enjoyable birding I decide to head home having slowly worked around to the spot whether the pipits had been seen the day before. I turned around and almost immediately noticed an enormous pipit flying around and almost dwarfing some neighbouring Skylarks. It was only then that I realised that it was calling - a distinctive and repeated sparrow-like 'shreep' - a Richard's Pipit!

True to form it quickly disappeared, bounding rapidly through the air and off over several dunes. Obviously I decided to follow it and was surprised to flush it close by - at the time it did not occur to me that that was the second bird...

I continued, carefully skirting dunes to try to get a view of the area the bird(s) had disappeared into. Scanning ahead I noted a large long-legged passerine on top of a hawthorn bush and through the scope could see that it was a 1st winter Richard's Pipit - I hadn't been expecting to see it through the scope in this habitat.

The bird moved over another rise, so I followed carefully to find it atop another bush to be joined by not one but two others!

The three birds moved again, hovering and then landing at the edge of a marshy dune slack. I settled down with my scope to watch them preening and feeding. Soon only one bird was visible as the others had disappeared into the vegetation.

They seemed settled but then all three lifted yet again before landing in the next damp hollow. I shifted carefully and this time they flew over my head and then back around towards the path. By this time other birders were on the scene so I gave directions and we waited. No further sign before I had to leave although as we waited we heard a Richard's Pipit call - this time from an overflying bird - could that have been the fourth of the day?...

 So, a Lothian, Scottish and a Lothian-self-found tick to boot - not bad for a morning's stroll!

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